What ever happened to “reciprocation”?

What ever happened to the kind and selfless act of giving your time to someone you care about especially if they’ve shown you the same kindness?

I’m certain that some of you are saying that just because someone is giving you something  it doesn’t mean you have to give them something in return but isn’t it polite to at least acknowledge that gift with appreciation, a kind “thank you” and the unspoken promise that someday the gift will be returned?

We seem to live in a world where people expect others to give their “gift” but only return it when it serves our needs.

It’s true when I give of my time or my self I do not expect it in return but there is a part of me that knows that those who really care will, without question, reciprocate in kind in some way. It’s part of being in healthy relationships.

AH there’s the rub, isn’t it? The “Healthy” part. There is or there should be a constant give and take in relationships, whether romantic or not, and yet from my experience many people seem to be takers only.  Giving only when it’s beneficial to themselves.

I think the correct term for people like this is “narcissist” though I can’t be certain. What I am certain of is that narcissism is a personality disorder and something we shouldn’t aspire to and yet it seems so many people do.

I can’t control other people, though let’s be honest if the people in my life would just listen to everything I say my life would be far less stressful and I’m sure everyone reading this can identify; I can only control my actions and it’s in my nature to reciprocate, sometimes to a fault but that’s my issue and I deal with it. But I’d much rather be known as a generous person to all than stingy.

Because it’s very close to that time of year a quote from the very excellent Charles Dickens,

“”It is required of every manthat the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death.”

just, saying.

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While perusing my newsfeed this morning I came upon a charming article entitled “A 7 step Morning Ritual to create a balanced and Healthy Life”. I’ve always been enthralled with the concept of rituals though I doubt I have any. I think the actions I take daily are more about habit than anything else so I read the article thinking that maybe I could incorporate a few “rituals” into my morning habits.

The first ritual was a 3 minute stretch followed by 3 minutes of hydration and I was OK, not that I would undertake these “rituals” but I thought that maybe they were on to something and then it came to drinking an “Immune boosting elixir”. The only elixir I’m familiar with is Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir and that really didn’t do Mr. Pirelli any good so the entire article sort lost me at that point.

However it did get me to thinking; maybe my actions weren’t habits maybe they were, in fact rituals so I decided to list them:

Awaken by slamming doors -1 second. I’m not sure what it is about Irish Americans but we sure do love to slam a door.

Pain Assessment 3+ minutes-basically trying to figure out what is hurting and if it is cause for alarm.

T-Rex walk to bathroom 30 seconds unless it took longer to discover what was paining me then 10 seconds and T-rex runs.

Stumble around living room cleaning up the detritus my children have left overnight including but not limited to paper plates, utensils, carving knives, used paper towels, wet bathmats 20+ minutes

Brew a restorative mug of coffee 20+ minutes. Yes 20 minutes to find a mug, wash the mug then try to remember where I put the coffee, then recall I put it back where it belongs but someone moved it because…well just because.

Pick out an outfit to wear to class  by picking up clothes strewn upon the floor. 1-5 minutes depending on the day of the week.

I’ve decided that whether you call them rituals or habits neither is going to give me a balance life.

You know that moment when you think you know a person and then they say or do something and you realize that you didn’t know them at all? I hate that moment, I really do. It’s rarely a good thing, it’s rare that you realize that someone is even better than you thought them to be. It’s almost always something awful. Hey, I know people are not perfect, I sure know that I’m not perfect and I hope to god no one thinks I am. I think I am “balls out” with my flaws. I’m very much, “this is me, this is who I am”. It’s not that I’m super confident that people will like me the way I am nor is it that I don’t care if people like me or not because I do like to be liked. It’s because being open an honest is easier than trying to hide. It’s like lying, I’d rather tell the truth because I never have to remember the lie.  I am who I am all the time because well, I’m too lazy to do otherwise. However there are so many people who hide their truths; they hide their racism, they hide their meanness, they hide their self-centeredness, they hide their disloyalty or rather try to hide it because like with every disease it eventually presents itself.  It would be nice if people’s awful character traits we easily identifiable like a tattoo on your forehead that said “Bigot” or maybe a QR code embedded on your arm. Of course there is the option of just being who your are and then allow people to like you that way or run away from you because you’re just not a good person. Yeah, that moment you discover that someone you care about isn’t who they’ve been saying they were sucks donkey doo-doo.

16 years ago today at nearly this very hour I was teaching ballet. I know because tomorrow is my daughter’s 16th birthday and I taught the day I was scheduled to deliver.

I still have the ballet skirt I wore when I was pregnant with her and I remember wearing it one day and saying to her father, “Wow, with this skirt on you can barely tell that I pregnant!” and him saying as deadpan as ever, “Yeah you can.”

Which brings me to the subject of this blog; I’ve lost the sharer of so many memories and today is one of those times where the loss is very strong.

Tomorrow we will sing and eat cake and I will share the story of my youngest’s birth with her and her sister all the while thinking that their father should be here correcting me, corroborating and laughing that raspy laugh of his when I recall the part where I cursed so loudly and strongly the nurses pleaded with me to stop because I was scaring the other mothers.

While the physical loss is hard for all of us the emotional connection we lost, the emotional connection I lost is the hardest to bear.

I am fully aware of my situation, of my “lot” in life and it neither bothers nor scares me but it does seem to terrify other people. My “It’s nice to dream about but I know I’ll never…” is almost always met with “Don’t say that! You never know!” but the thing is, I do know. I know my past and I can clearly see what the future most likely has in store for me and I don’t mind it at all, I accept it. I don’t mind that I will mostly likely never see Greece or France or any part of Europe, I don’t even get wistful.  Sure I like to look at photos and fantasize but I know I live a small, humble life and I’m fine with it. It’s really all I know.

Oh I can hear you now, “But you have to dream BIG!” But the term “Big” is all relative. Where I am situated “dreaming big” is dreaming of a bathtub that drains swiftly or a car that hasn’t had 17 other owners.  I do have dreams but they’re dreams that one has when one leads a simple life. They’re simple dreams and that is the way it is. I am ambitious but my ambitions are within my parameters. (or perimeters, I never remember)

I find that this attitude, this acquiescence scares the shit out of some people and some people actually get angry at me. I’d like to think it’s because they care for me to such a degree that they want me to “shoot for the stars” as it were. But there’s a very big part of me that just thinks that they’re terrified that they’ve been handed a line “If you can dream it, you can achieve it!” so EVERYONE must believe and DREAM BIG or no one can every achieve their dreams.  Sometimes I think some people are so unhappy, unsatisfied with what they’ve got in life the only way to make themselves “happy” is to keep dreaming. The only think I do know is; accepting with an open heart is relatively stress free.

Instead of toiling away under the illusion that I will make it to say, Santorini Greece or own a brand new car I’m appreciating what my modest life brings me; a car that transports me safely, a roof over my head, people who care about me, a full bottle of sriracha, a job that lets me create all day long.  Before you get up in arms I’m not saying that “Big Dreamers” do not appreciate what they’re given in life it’s just that sometimes when you live a small life the small gains mean more than you might think.

Crap. I missed a day. Maybe two.

Lately I’ve been thinking back to a time when my life was less stressful, hell, to a time when I had no stress at all. You might think that was pre-children and though my life was stress free then it was also stress free for a good portion of my children’s lives. Sure when they were infants I felt as if I was going to fall asleep on my feet but I never recall the soul crushing, chest tightening feeling of the stress that seems to visit me every day.

99% of that stress come from people touching my things. This is an hourly occurrence that I just can’t seem to put an end to. Sometimes it’s relatively harmless say when my eye glasses have been moved to a “safe” spot and the stress is just from me being a slight control freak. Other times the stress comes from  makeup brushes being used for poster painting when I’ve got 10 minutes to get ready for a party or someone wearing my clothes because their’s are not clean or people just doing weird stuff like making scotch-tape grids on my carpet while I’m asleep or using my tweezers to perform surgery on a remote control.

I suppose in part I am to blame for the weird shit. I’ve always cultivated my kids creativity AND independence and now that they’re well into their teens that means messes and predicaments like you wouldn’t believe. Most causing my blood pressure to rise to a level that I can actually feel my head expanding like a cartoon version of a thermometer on a summer day.

I bet you’re thinking that I’m going to say “But I wouldn’t change a thing!” but you’re dead wrong. OH to be able to go back in time and #1 install one of those huge walk in safes so I can put ALL my stuff safely inside #2 invest in locks lots of locks

roses

I received flowers today.

A dozen roses to be exact and a box of chocolates.

I think the last time I received both was in the 80s.

I know damn well who sent them to me and I adore him for it.

I’m not saying who it is because that’s really none of anyone’s business.

There seems to be many people, excluding my children, who think I “deserve” these flowers and I can’t say whether I do or not but what I can say is that they made me smile in more ways than one.

I did however eat all the chocolates and now my stomach is very upset.

THAT was worth it.